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Mutant DnaK chaperones cause ribosome assembly defects in Escherichia coli.

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Abstract

To determine whether the biogenesis of ribosomes in Escherichia coli is the result of the self-assembly of their different constituents or involves the participation of additional factors, we have studied the influence of a chaperone, the product of the gene dnaK, on ribosome assembly in vivo. Using three thermosensitive (ts) mutants carrying the mutations dnaK756-ts, dnaK25-ts, and dnaK103-ts, we have observed the accumulation at nonpermissive temperature (45 degrees C) of ribosomal particles with different sedimentation constants--namely, 45S, 35S, and 25S along with the normal 30S and 50S ribosomal subunits. This is the result of a defect not in thermostability but in ribosome assembly at the nonpermissive temperature. These abnormal ribosomal particles are rescued if the mutant cells are returned to 30 degrees C. Thus, the product of the dnaK gene is implicated in ribosome biogenesis at high temperature.

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